Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fruits Basket

I've been thinking that I need to write a post about the series Fruits Basket, so here I go.  This series was one of the earliest series I watched when I first began watching fan-subbed anime.  It's still high up on my list of all time favorite series.

Fruits Basket is what I call an "everyday" series.  Modern day, everyday, normal life - with something of a twist in this  particular case.  The story follows three high school kids through a short period in their lives.  The main characters are a girl named Honda Tohru, and two boys who are cousins, Souma Yuki and Souma Kyou.   The picture shows these three and the boy's older cousin Shigure, to the far left.  Yuki and Kyou are in school uniforms, Yuki with gray hair and Kyou with orange. 

Tohru is a girl who is always smiling and always positive, despite the fact that her father died when she was a toddler, and she had lost her mother in an accident shortly before the story begins.  After her mother's death Tohru lived with her grandfather until his house began undergoing renovations.  Then, instead of being a bother to her friends, Tohru pitches a tent to live in.  She happens to pitch her tent on the property of the Souma family.

Souma Yuki is in Tohru's class at school and he is living with Shigure in a house near where Tohru is living in her tent.  When Yuki and Shigure discover Tohru in her tent and her tent is destroyed by a storm, they invite her to live with them free of charge in exchange for cooking and housework.  She agrees. 

And that's the basic story line except for one pretty major detail.  The Souma family is under a curse.  The curse of the Juunishi affects 14 members of the extended Souma family who are born with the curse.  12 are cursed by each of the 12 animals of the Zodiac (thus Juunishi), one is cursed by the cat, which is not a member of the zodiac, and one bears the brunt of the curse and is thus the head of the family.  This particular Souma, Akito, does not have an animal form but he will die young due to the curse.  For the most part these cursed Souma's live pretty normal human lives, however, sickness, embarrassment, or bumping into a member of the opposite sex, will cause them to transform into their animal form. 

When Shigure (dog) and Yuki (rat) take Tohru in, they vow to be careful around her, but Kyou (cat) shows up, and through his carelessness Tohru discovers the Souma's most important secret.  In this picture Shigure, Kyou and Yuki have become the dog, cat and rat after accidentally bumping into Tohru, and she's pretty freaked out by that at first.  Luckily one of the Juunishi can erase portions of people's memories in order to keep the secret, however in doing so, Tohru will lose all memory of the Souma's.   Yuki doesn't want Tohru to forget him and Tohru doesn't want to forget any of them.  Akito, as head of the family, decides to allow Tohru to keep her memory and to stay with Yuki, Kyou and Shigure, assuming that she will be driven off by the nature of the curse.  However Tohru's personality lets her always accept others for who they are and she stays.

This story line is wonderful, and often very fun, as Tohru meets various members of the Juunishi and helps many of them come to terms with their own issues.  Tohru changes each person she comes into contact with, often helping them by just accepting them and being her happy, occasionally oblivious self.  The story is about growing past hardship, staying true to yourself and your friends, accepting other's frailties and seeing past them.  There are a multitude of lessons to take away from this series, and all of it's incredibly well done.  There's humor and sadness and triumph and loss.  You end up feeling good about the series.  In the end, Tohru even takes on the bitter Akito who goes out of his way to hurt others because he hates his own life so much.   

Along with the excellent plot line, the series also has very good music and a great character style.  The story is a non-ending ending, with life going on for Tohru and the Souma's, but you're actually happy to see that.  If you haven't ever seen this series, I highly recommend it.  Maybe I'll watch it again.

And if you're wondering where the name Fruits Basket comes from, it's explained in the series.

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